I'm a mother of two. They are still quite young but my experience with children dates back over 10 years. My pre-children experience is much different than post. Children see me differently now. Prior to becoming a mother, I was one of the kids. In fact, The children I worked with could never imagine me having children of my own! They were my own. The child at heart in me bursted out in all directions and was fully excepted and recognized by other children. Now that I've become a mother, I seem to wear that hat in a much more obvious way. Children have a different type of obedience towards me and they don't let me in fully to their secret world until I sort of go through an adult initiation. Learning to navigate this new role with the children other than my own has been a very enlightening process. If I were to give any sort of motherly advice, it would come by the way of Order and Play.
Sensitivity to order, everything has it's place- just enough. If you notice your Little getting easily distracted or showing no interest in the many options they have for playing, try simplifying their environment. Often we parents think that little ones can keep themselves busy when given plenty of options all at once. But this is not true. My great Mentor once told me, 'the state of the environment reflects the state of our mind.' She recognizes that children have sensitivity to Order right around the toddler years. Rather than submersing the house with many options, find a storage cabinet or downstairs spot to place a tote filled with toys. Use a simple natural wooden shelf that has cubbies and place a few items that are appropriate for their age. Notice over the next month or two if your child engages with a once neglected toy more often. Don't have all the books out and available at once. Switch them out every month to only about 10 that are reflective of the season and time. When you revisit old toys or books that aren't readily available the child will experience them in a whole new way. The trick is to keep the environment where the child spends most of their time playing new and exciting. Switching things out on a monthly or seasonally basis keeps you from being the 'toy pickerupper'. A process of too much is overwhelming for the child. Rather set the child up for success as to allow her the chance to master the environment and develop a sense of Order. Part of the fun of doing any work or activity is the cleaning up. It may not seem so because we 'over adult' the situation. But with a few simple guidelines and examples the child can soon take total control over every part of the process: we take it off the shelf, we play with it and we put it back. A small investment of your time and consistency with this now will pay off big time as your toddler turns into an adolescent, teenager and one day, and orderly adult. There's a great sense of accomplishment being able to 'do it by myself!'
Play. Need I say more? Play play play! Revisit your own childhood and the fun memories by just playing. So much healing of past wounds for you and your child can come out in play. It's your natural stress reducer and it's really all that children want to do! We need it in our lives too. By making sure every day you play with your child a couple of times, you can make parenting fun again. There needs to be a balance. It's an all consuming time when caring for the Littles. Don't forget to make it a playful experience!
Written by Kathryn Eagen